Monday, November 1, 2010

Restoring Sanity... in the Public School Classroom

I have been reading some of the bloggers' reactions to John Stewart's rally in Washington D.C. this past weekend. Stewart always adds quite a bit of humor to his liberal-leaning presentation of the news. He was joined at the rally by his dubious conservative counterpart on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert.

Here is a short clip of the opening festivities:


While the introduction is comical, it is delivered with intelligence and sharpness that have made Stewart a success. This is exactly what young Americans who are still interested in politics, despite the anger and mediocrity with which the talking heads deliver it to us on network news, are searching for. Despite the stereotyping, young Americans do not require everything to be entertaining (well, maybe some of them do). The larger point is that the political parties that run the elections and government have become farther and farther apart, leaving most young Americans standing in the middle trying to decide between two somewhat ridiculous options:
  • The Republicans would have us believe that we should be angry, really furious, about the economy, high unemployment and taxes. According to the Republicans we should blame our situation on the Obama Administration and the Democrats. Therefore, we must vote for a republican candidate in the midterm elections tomorrow.
  • The Democrats would have us believe that every problem that exists in the United States of America can be blamed on the Bush Administration and the Republicans. Since, according to the Democrats, their actions from 2000-2008 are the root of all evil, we must vote for only democratic candidates tomorrow.

What about the rest of us?

What do the voters think... I mean on their OWN, not based on what the parties tell them to think through unending mailings, emails, and campaign tv and radio advertisments?

What about FUTURE voters?

Tomorrow, I plan to ask my students

  • What they think about how the campaigns in our state have played out?
  • What campaign ads do they think help voters decide? Which don't help at all? We might even watch a few on YouTube.
  • What messages are candidates sending? What messages should they be sending?
  • If they could vote, who would they vote for governor? or for congressman?
  • How should voters make their decisions before checking a box or filling in a bubble inside a voting booth?

Those of you who are reading this and are parents or teachers or just citizens who know teenagers, I beg you to have a similar discussion. They are future voters. They see all the same media that we do. They need to tools to filter all of it and then make an educated decision based on how THEY think and feel, not based on how the media TELLS THEM to think and feel.